Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bowen Sunday



I checked my wristwatch (or "beeping" if you're Sebastian or Sofia or "my beeping watch" if you're Gabriel) - 10:02. Oh bother. Two minutes ago, the service at Cates Hill Chapel had begun. I looked at my self in the mirror. I hadn't brushed my hair in around 36 hours. In less than 37 seconds I had it half pulled back, out of my eyes, and a furious barking bulldog at my heels.

"Stop barking... please?" I demanded Charlie with authority. I've been trying every tone of voice with those dogs and every pattern of word choices my brain can come up with. "Please stop." "Stop." "No barking." "I don't really like it when you growl in such a furious way at me."

I pushed past the dog in my path (kindly) and threw on my down jacket I had just gotten at the Knick Knack Nook. A small scarf, two gloves, and I was set to go.

The walk gave me a settling feeling of being content. On this very day (the 11th) three months ago, I had taken my very first ferry trip to Bowen Island. A little runt of an island in Howe Sound right on the Strait of Georgia, in British Columbia, Canada, that I never would have explored were it not for L'Abri.

I know I could've stuck my thumb out for a ride within seconds, but the 1.2 mile walk is easy and the weather was clear. A morning stroll sounded ideal in that moment. As I pushed forward, familiar faces lined the streets - some I knew for certain ("Hey Maggie!" is a sound I like to hear) and others I had simply seen before as one does after living on an island with such a small population.

Up the hill.
Across the bridge.
By the woods.

An alert German Shepard welcomed me to Cates Hill Chapel. This was the first time I had entered solo. Weeks previeously, I was in the finest of company - other L'Abri students or dear Mary Ann. It was a full house, standing room only at that point, while the children acted out the Christmas Story.

They led the heart-warmed congregation through carols as the frost from outside melted off of my shoes. Each moment of eye contact was like a soul-hug with the beautiful residents of Bowen. A standing ovation brought the story to an end and the children scampered down the aisle to awaiting treats. I searched for a seat and found a stack of chairs by the Sheibes - Clarke, Julia, and Samuel. In creeping over, I wondered how much Samuel would remember of me. When he saw me, "Mah-gee" was my greeting as he squirmed to get down. With little persuasion, Clarke put him down. He looked up at me, said, "MIN!" and proceded to tottle in a complete circle. Yes, "Min" is what Samuel and I do indeed do together. We love to spin.The remaining "big people" prayed together and took communion - how grateful I am to my Father for so much!

Post-service, there were certainly people to talk to. During the L'Abri term, I wasn't one to hang around and discuss after church. I normally wanted to charge out for SPD reasons, but today I felt inclined to connect and catch-up - usually with the parents of the kids on Bowen that I get to play with.


I left the church feeling satisfied and wandered through the woods to the Knick Knack Nook to see if there were any treats. A friendly honk from the Adams' Jeep told me I was there and I was thrilled to see Carrie and baby Isabel. Inside the thrift shop, I had the privlege of carry the fuzzy-infant around (softest sleeper I'd felt in a while), leaving Carrie with free hands for a bit. We paced through the store, Isabel taking in all the fantastic textures and me checking out the incredible prices. For $1.28 I got delicious Fold-N-Mail stationary (I'm a sucker for stationary - it was nearly a full tablet of 33 of 40 original sheets present and cost around 1/20th of the original price - only $0.50), a small wooden spoon, a business card album, and "somethin'" else. What a big spender I am.

Back out in the cold, I took the trek back to the Cove to burn some time before the West Coast Symphony Concert at the Bowen Island Community School (BICS). I ran into Matthew on the hill and we discussed the purpose of dogs and the possiblilities of the English language.

I was delighted to find yams in stock at the Ruddy Potato (the local organic market) and snatched a tiny one up for $1.04 (this island is not cheap - nor the shop). I sauntered down the steps, tossing my yam up to a clever tune I wrote on the fly with the in depth lyrics of, "I got a yam!" A dapper elderly man on the sidewalk commented on them being the healthiest of root vegetables, putting even more bounce into my step as I set my sights on the local library.

The library occupied me for the remaining time as I pulled out Emily of New Moon from my backpack and read in the corner. I left with a copy of the Nutcracker in my backpack, thoroughly stoked for the upcoming concert.

The school gym was packed with families and excited concertgoers and fellow music-enthusiasts. I found my seat front and center only because I was a single girl and few people were attending solo. The attendance of children was encouraging and perfect for this performance which included "Peter and the Wolf." I was pleased that I could afford this concert where admission was by donation.


The West Coast Symphony put on a beautiful performance, opening with Giuseppe Verdi's Overture to "Nabucco." This was followed by the ever so famous "Peter and the Wolf" which the children devoured! The narrator was in full character as he interacted with kids who sneaked up to the front to sit or dance at his feet. The audience laughed as five or six small birds twitted about, making the concert all the more enjoyable. After an intermission, they finished up with Vivaldi's "Concerto for Two Trumpets," Mozart's "Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat," and a unifying round of Leroy Anderson's "A Christmas Festival." With the Christmas Festival piece, the whole gym sung out familiar Christmas tunes as they were recognized, all led by a local opera singer who was holding his son.


During the concert, to my right I heard a familiar tongue - German! However it was high German from Germany, mumbled, and whispered, so it was hard to catch on. I was trying to think of a way to enter the conversation and came upon it as we sang during "A Christmas Festival." When "Silent Night" was played, I sung the German version, "Stille Nacht," and knew I had caught their attention when they looked over at me.

After the concert, the man turned to me said, "You sang "Silent Night" in German," to which I replied, in German, that German was a language I could speak. We were bantering back and forth instantly and before long I had Horst and Anne's number and an invitation to come visit during the next ten days for some German company and conversation. This delighted me.

It seemed time to head home and check on Jake and Charlie. They were fine. They growled at me. I danced....and rocked out to the Nutcracker, yo.

And so goes life on Bowen...

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